To put it simply, 2020 has been rough. A global pandemic, backlash against nationwide Black Lives Matter protests and a presidential election that will arguably determine the fate of the country.
While in quarantine for the past few months, feelings of helplessness and uncertainty were largely inescapable. As the 2020 election nears, Americans can express these feelings and voice their concerns through their most powerful tool: their vote.
This year’s events have set the stage for a decade-defining presidential election. Younger voters play a vital role in advocating for change and either showing up to the polls or mailing in their ballots.
Young voters have historically had low participation levels in elections, while older voters have dominated the polls. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the 2016 presidential election, “citizens 65 years and older reported higher turnout (70.9%) than 45 to 64-year-olds (66.6%), 30 to 44-year-olds (58.7%) and 18 to 29-year-olds (46.1%).”
Despite low voter turnout among young voters in the past, there has recently been a jump in their political involvement. Voter turnout among 18 to 29-year-olds increased from “20% in 2014 to 36% in 2018” which was the largest percentage point increase across all age groups, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
College students have become more politically active, which has contributed to an increase in younger voter turnout. Voting among college students more than doubled from 2014 to 2018, going from 19 to 40% respectively, according to a study published by Tufts University.
Although younger voters have previously shied away from voting, they are becoming more aware of political issues and more vocal about demanding change. A Harvard Public Opinion Project found 30% of 18 to 29-year-olds consider themselves politically engaged, compared to 24% in 2017.
Since today’s younger voters are becoming increasingly politically aware, it is important to reflect that awareness at the polls. Voting is one of the most important things you can do because it is the main way your voice can be heard. Vote for candidates who fight for issues you care about and encourage your friends and families to vote as well.
The circumstances surrounding the 2020 election threaten overall voter turnout as in-person voting is not as safe or as accessible this year. In Ohio, you can utilize mail-in voting by applying for a mail-in ballot here if you cannot vote at your polling place.
Ohio voters can request a mail-in ballot for any reason, so if you do not feel safe voting in-person, this is an alternative. Also, for out-of-state college students, fill out an absentee ballot form here to ensure your vote is counted.
You can register to vote in Ohio here by Oct. 5 in order to vote in the presidential election. If you choose mail-in voting, send in your ballot by Oct. 20 to give the post office two weeks to deliver your ballot.
Voice your concerns with your vote, speak up, and fight for change. Younger voters have the chance to make a significant impact in the 2020 election, so make sure your voice is heard. Vote like your life depends on it because, in this climate, it does.